Youngstown State head baseball coach Dan Bertolini has announced that Eric Smith has been promoted to the top assistant position on the YSU coaching staff.
Smith has served as the program's recruiting coordinator since 2016 and has helped the Penguins achieve impressive offensive numbers in his two seasons.
"It's with great pleasure that we are able to promote Eric to this position," Bertolini said. "He has been such a valuable asset to our program. Eric has been a consummate professional and has helped our program not only offensively, but he has also done a tremendous job of identifying and evaluating our current and future Penguins. He has built great relationships within our program and throughout the university, and we look forward to the future with him in this position."
In the two seasons Smith has been on campus, the Penguins have hit 94 home runs, which is the most in a two-year stretch in program history. The uptick in offense has led to an increase in victories as well. In 2018, YSU had its most wins since 2010 and earned its first Horizon League Tournament victory since 2014.
In 2018, the Penguins hit 44 homers, which ranked second in the Horizon League and third on the school's all-time list. YSU also drew a conference-leading and school-record-setting 272 walks last season. Additionally, YSU also registered 86 stolen bases, which ranked second in the Horizon League and tied for the second most in a single season in school history.
In 2017, the first season with Bertolini and Smith on campus, the Penguins averaged almost a full run more per game than in 2016. They also averaged more runs per game than in five of the previous six seasons. YSU batted 31 points higher and hit an eye-popping 38 more home runs than in 2016. After the regular season, only three teams in the country had improved their home run total from 2016 more than Youngstown State.
Smith saw five of his hitters garner postseason Horizon League honors in 2018. Trey Bridis was named First-Team All-Horizon League while Blaze Glenn and Jeff Wehler were named to the league's second team. In addition, Wehler, Nick LaBrasca and Lucas Nasonti were each voted to the All-Freshman Team. Bridis was a National Player of the Week, and the Penguins had two hitters earn national recognition in 2017.
Additionally, Andrew Kendrick finished his career with a school record 30 home runs, and 26 of those came in the two years with Smith as his hitting coach. Kendrick broke YSU's single-season record with 17 home runs in 2017, and he followed that up with nine in 2018.
Smith also works defensively with the outfielders and catchers, and YSU set a new school record with a .966 fielding percentage in 2017.